Monday, March 31, 2014

Know Your Audience

Recently, local public radio stations were promoting their annual fundraising efforts and asking for pledges to keep the station on the air. I had to chuckle when I heard one of them proudly say, “We are in the homestretch of this campaign.  We know our listeners. They are passionate, intelligent, and inquisitive.”  At first blush I thought it was a rather pompous and arrogant statement. Yet we know a key to successful fund raising is to know your audience.  

All of this made me think, what about those who constitute a Christian audience on any given day?  How would they be described?  I am sure many are passionate, intelligent and inquisitive. But is that a complete description of the Gospel’s listening audience? I don’t think so, at least not according to the Bible.

The Bible describes those sitting in the pew (and standing in the pulpit) as sinners, in need of a Savior. We’re like lost sheep that have gone astray. Even with all of our passion and intelligence and inquisitive minds, we can’t save ourselves. Our human cleverness comes up empty at the foot of the cross.

This kind of honest look in the mirror is often avoided, even in the church. We don’t like to be told we fall short nor do we easily accept that we cannot save ourselves by our human effort. Paul told the church at Ephesus “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” I guess that is why the cross will always seem foolish to some audiences while to us it is amazing good news!   (I Corinthians 1:18)

We are headed down our own homestretch of another Lenten season, and if we are paying attention and listening, we know what lies ahead:  the cross, sign of the power of God’s love to save us. We are the audience hearing the good news of the Gospel. How can we be described? Paul wrote about believers as “us who are being saved." We may be passionate, intelligent, and inquisitive, but if the world knows us as people “being saved” then that description is the best one of all.

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